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Western National Parks of America In One Week

A journey through some of the Western National Parks of America makes this a great driving trip.  If you're interested in exploring the American West, this is one way to do it, if you want to see natural wonders, you will find them here, and If you like hiking, then this is the place for you.

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The actual starting point for the tour listed in most guides is Las Vegas, and you will need about a week to drive through Nevada, Utah and Arizona.  To drive to and explore the Western National Parks we're describing here, you will cover about 1050 miles (1,690 km).  
 
You can fly directly to Las Vegas from many cities in America and most major cities worldwide.  You probably will want to spend a day or two in Las Vegas to see some shows, soak up the atmosphere or just satisfy your curiosity about "Sin City".
 
The first stop on this trip is Zion National Park, a deep canyon carved by the innocuous looking Virgin River.  There's a great hike up this river into a slot canyon called "The Narrows Hike", so called as the canyon does actually narrow to only 20-30 feet across in places.  You will spend 60% of your time ‘in’ the river as the canyon walls soar above you.  So please check on conditions at the visitor centre as flash floods are possible.  
 
If you're not up for that strenuous hike, there are other routes that let you see much of what the park has to offer, and there are also some scenic drives that allow you to see some sights by car.  There is a lodge in the park and more accommodations are available outside the park, and of course camp sites are available.
 

Colourful spire-shaped hoodoos-WhichHolidayTV

Bryce Canyon National Park is your next stop.  It's a small National Park, but some visitors come away saying this was their favourite park.  It's famous for its colourful spire-shaped "hoodoos".  A hike into the canyon will make you feel you've entered a fairy wonderland.  There is a lodge in the Park and good accommodation nearby, with two camp sites near the visitor centre.
 
The drive to Capitol Reef National Park follows along Route 12 and is very pretty.  The main feature in this park is the formation known as the "Waterpocket Fold", an ancient wrinkle in the earth's crust.  Camping is available in the park but there is no other accommodation, however you will find some motels about 12-15 miles (20-25 km) from the park entrance.
 
You can pass through the Natural Bridges National Monument.  This scenic drive will allow you to view each of the three bridges that were formed by meandering streams.  Allow a couple of hours for this, but be aware the nearest lodging is about 30-40 miles away with some small camp sites available.  
 

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You might want to make it a long day of driving and get to Monument Valley Tribal Park.  This huge valley has those iconic wild-west sandstone formations that you've seen in the movies.  "The Mittens" are the most photographed, but there are other pinnacles and arches, bluffs and buttes and you can get guided tours from Navajo tour operators.  There is accommodation in the area, however the only one in the Tribal Park is the new hotel called The View.  
 
We're saving the most famous of the western National Parks for last, The Grand Canyon, clearly this is one western National Park that you must see.  There is plenty of accommodation and camping available in the park and many options nearby with shuttles into the Park itself.  
 
This is such a popular destination that driving is restricted in some areas in the park and parking can be a nightmare, making the shuttles the best option. 
 
Another day of driving will have you back at Las Vegas.  By driving this loop instead of staying in town, you will have kept Las Vegas from getting too much of your money, and you'll be far richer in experiences given by the Western National Parks.
 
 
 

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